- It is important to have talk about sex with your kids, but leave the rest (that you’re uncomfortable discussing, or don’t know much about) for the sex educators at school.
- Dan Savage is one of the many helpful sex educators that can be contacted in a time of need. Seek out people who can provide you with resources to make responsible sexual decisions.
- Get involved in Sex Week at your school. Help supply condoms, lube and other forms of contraception to students. Advocate for safe sex and encourage others to be responsible as well.
- Parents, fight for mandatory sex education in your child’s school. Know what type of sex ed your child will receive (abstinence-only or abstinence based) before piggybacking on concepts that he/she learns in school.
- Remember that everyone is unique. Some people identify as a gender that is inconsistent with the sex they were assigned at birth. While this poses conflict with sexual norms in society, it is up to the community to welcome him/her in with open arms, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity (as seen on Glee).
- Be aware of the bills passing in your state. Do you want to live in a state like Tennessee where there is a limit on your exposure to homosexuality? Or do you want your kids to know that their friends are raised by gay parents?
- Use your judgment to monitor or even restrict your child’s exposure to the media, especially the Internet and television/movies.
- Do not try to combat your sexual urges by playing soccer.
20 Apr 2012 Leave a comment
in Sex education Tags: College Sex Week, Conversation about sex, Dan Savage, Don't Say Gay bill, Mandatory sex education, Media exposure, Sex education, Sexual health, Thailand sex education, Transgender
19 Apr 2012 Leave a comment
TED Talks welcomes a familiar face to my blog, Professor Al Vernacchio from Pennsylvania. In this segment, Vernacchio discusses sexuality and intends to “reframe” the ways his audience talks about sex (“Let’s Talk”). Using the same baseball reference that I quoted in my previous entry, he reminds us of our constant comfort in using the baseball metaphor do describe whether are “pitchers or catchers” during sex, whether we “strike out” with someone, and those who “play for the other team” (“Let’s Talk”).
Already, I notice that Mr. Vernacchio can relate to students through this lecture. With his use of baseball and other metaphors such as pizza, he makes it seem effortless to draw in a group of uncomfortable teens. In addition to easing the crowd, his metaphors make it easy to breakdown awkward and complicated conversations. Mr. Vernacchio compares triggers for sexual activity, what happens during, and the outcome of sexual activity. While these are concepts that may seem simple to most, depending on the age they are introduced, these simple metaphors do just the trick to simplify them and make them less intimidating for all parties involved.
I also stumbled upon a great youtube video posted by the College of the Atlantic, who held a lecture from Mr. Al Vernacchio where he spoke about how parents should approach “the talk” with their kids. Once again, he simplified an awkward conversation and allowed parents to ask questions about the approach. I will admit that I sat through 1.5 hours of his lecture and time flew. Mr. Vernacchio engages his audience and introduces many suggestions that I would never think to use when discussing sex with my kids. I strongly recommend this video for all who are/hope-to-be parents. I can guarantee his tips will really get the ball rolling for the inevitable conversation and I bet both you and your child will gain a lot from it.
“Al Vernacchio – Having “The Talk”: How to Talk to Kids – At Any Age – About Healthy Sexuality.” YouTube. 02 Apr. 2010. Web. 14 Apr. 2012.
“TED Blog.” TED Blog. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. <http://blog.ted.com/2012/03/02/lets-talk-about-sex-and-pizza-al-vernacchio-at-ted2012/>.
26 Mar 2012 Leave a comment
This whole discussion of NYC mandatory sex education got me thinking. What are the state policies on sex education in all states? As it turns out, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, all states are “somehow involved in sex education for public schoolchildren” (“State Policies“).
As of February 2011, NCSL states:
- 21 states and the District of Columbia require public schools to teach sex education (including HIV education);
- 35 states and the District of Columbia require students receive instruction about STIs and HIV/AIDS;
- 17 states require sex education curricula to be medically accurate and/or age appropriate. State policies vary in their determination of “medically accurate;” some require that state health departments review curricula, while others require that the facts taught come from “published authorities upon which medical professionals rely.”
- 37 states require school districts to allow parental involvement in sexual education programs;
- Three states require parental consent before a child can receive instruction;
- 35 states and the District of Columbia allow parents to opt-out on behalf of their children.
“State Policies on Sex Education in Schools.” NCSL Home. Dec. 2011. Web. 24 Mar. 2012.
26 Mar 2012 Leave a comment
According to Roland Martin in his article “Sex Education Should Be Mandatory in All Schools” on CNN.com, too many parents are living in denial about their children having sex (Martin). I have been exposed to this denial firsthand, as I was raised with avoidance of the word sex or anything that could relate to sexual activity, until I asked at the age of 12.
This article reminds the reader that both safe sex and abstinence should be dealt with in an educational setting. New York City, an example city school system, should be commended for confronting the sex reality, since they cover both important topics (Martin). On the same token, the New York City Parents’ Choice Coalition is upset with videos that demonstrate to students how to put on a condom (Martin). Just like the common theme of most of these articles, it is important for parents to accept reality and understand that if they want their child to receive a well-rounded sexuality education, they must allow education professionals to step in and supplement their upbringing.
Much controversy arose over the mandatory sex education in New York City schools, as well as many questions that were difficult for the public to answer. On ABC Local in New York, a news segment explored the discussion about these mandatory classes. Many concerns were voiced, including what is the appropriate age for kids having sex and who should be teaching kids how to use a condom, to name a few (“Controversy Rises“). Although this class is mandatory in the NYC school system, parents may object to specific field trips (such as sending their kids to buy condoms and report back on what they bought/learned) and parents may also withdraw their children from class if they so choose (“Controversy Rises”).
In terms of the type of sex education provided, while abstinence is the only way to be 100% safe, we must acknowledge that a significant amount of teens are having sex. “[W]e can’t stick our heads in the sand” and ignore that it happens (“Controversy Rises”). In other words, we cannot ignore that especially in this generation, our children are sexually active and we have to provide them with the necessary resources to make smart decisions about their sexual behavior.
“Controversy Rises over Mandatory Sex Education in NYC Schools: 7online.” Moved Permanently. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.
Martin, Roland. “Sex Education Should Be Mandatory in All Schools – CNN.com.” CNN. Cable News Network, 29 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.
26 Mar 2012 Leave a comment
As previously mentioned in my last post, National Public Radio conducted a survey of the general public and parents nationwide in regards to sexuality education. NPR hoped to feel out whether parents were okay with sex ed being taught in schools. Here are their findings:
Should sex ed be in schools?: (“Sex Education“)
7% say no
93% say yes
When we dissect these statistics, we learn that like my parents, most just give consent to whatever is offered in their child’s school. In saying this, even public school principals have reported very little conflict over sex ed (“Sex Education”). However, this does not mean that Americans agree on which sex ed approach is best…
In terms of other survey statistics:
- 15% of Americans believe that schools should teach only about abstinence from sexual intercourse and should not provide information on contraception
- 46% believe that the most appropriate approach to sex ed is abstinence plus, where schools should include lessons on contraception
- 36% say abstinence is not important (“Sex Education”)
In my opinion, no one should impose beliefs or morals upon others in regards to their own sexual behavior. That being said, abstinence as an option and the discussion of contraception and responsible decision making will always be my vote.
“Sex Education in America: General Public/Parents Survey.” National Public Radio, 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2012.
25 Mar 2012 1 Comment
The discussion of what makes a good sex education teacher is subjective, however it is important to highlight the various techniques of teachers across the country. Let us begin with Mr. Al Vernacchio, a Sexuality and Society teacher at a private school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Vernacchio holds a master’s degree in Human Sexuality and has a unique approach to teaching sex education (Abraham).
In Laurie Abraham’s New York Times article entitled “Teaching Good Sex,” Vernacchio explains that he begins by reviewing the prior knowledge that his students hold on sexual behavior and sexuality (Abraham). This surfaces the baseball reference, in which a specific sexual behavior is seen as sequence of baseball plays. Vernacchio reminds students that baseball implies that sexual activity is just a game, with one party as the aggressor (often the boy, in a heterosexual relationship), while the other is defending herself (Abraham). With this reference, he explains that there is a strict order to play that implies you can’t stop until you finish; he says, “If you’re playing baseball, you can’t just say [you’re] really happy at second base” (Abraham). I never thought of the baseball reference in this light. Vernacchio is right: there is a hetero-normative assumption that sexual behavior must follow this specific rule set.
Vernacchio’s class is one of a kind in the US. Sexuality and Society is a course that “begins in the fall with a discussion of how to recognize and form [one’s] own values, then moves through topics like sexual orientation, safer sex, relationships, sexual health and the emotional and physical terrain of sexual activity” (Abraham). This is a very straightforward class that, in my opinion, should be more commonly presented in the public school system. As Abraham explains, there are three types of sex ed: abstinence-only sex ed, abstinence based sex ed, and comprehensive sex education (Abraham). Vernacchio has gone for the comprehensive approach, in which he offers nonjudgmental instruction on bodies, birth control, disease prevention and healthy relationships, which is geared to help teens make responsible choices when choosing to become sexually intimate with someone (Abraham).
After reading this article, it is clear that while Vernacchio takes a unique approach to sex ed, it has been effective and relatable for his students. As one student remarked in an interview with Abraham, she says, “I just love this class – you can ask anything” (Abraham). Isn’t that how all sex ed classes should be? How else will you retain anything from a class if you cannot engage in discussion and apply what you learn outside of the classroom?
We know my answer, but what do you think, and why? Should sex ed be abstinence only, abstinence based, or comprehensive?
Abraham, Laurie. “Teaching Good Sex.” The New York Times. 16 Nov. 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2012.
23 Mar 2012 Leave a comment
To expand upon my project proposal, this blog will explore the discussion of whether sex education should be taught at school. If the answer to this question is yes, I will touch upon the different types of sex education levels (such as abstinence only, abstinence based, sexually explorative education, etc.) With this blog, you will learn about what you can do as a parent, student, educational professional, and friend or mentor in the field of health and sex education. This blog will introduce you to different types of contraceptives you may have never heard before, while reminding us of the other more traditional ways to protect ourselves from STIs and infection (and simultaneously against getting pregnant). I will offer various statistics to show how sex education is presented across the country as well, and in what states. In addition, I will provide outlets for students to seek out additional sexual education online, if they do not have these resources at school.
I will further investigate which percentages of parents intervene in their children’s sex education program, which percentage parents supplement this program and to what extent (if any) parents will substitute for this program in general. While some parents prefer to be their child’s only source of knowledge about sex education, it is interesting to see how studies say that these kids turn out.
I hope that you will enjoy reading this blog and further participate in this discussion in your child’s school one day. Where will you stand as a parent? If you are an educational professional, what is over-stepping your bounds in the field of sex education? How far is too far? We will find out from a few people who find themselves in these positions now.
While I am not a sex educator myself, please seek me out for further resources and possible contacts to help answer any questions you may have about the field of sex education.
“Abstinence and Sex Education.” AVERTing HIV and AIDS. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.